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Ssam-bap Recipe!

March 14, 2013

ssam-bap ingredients

If you travel outside of Seoul like Bill and I do when we visit Korea, you will see a lot of really cute Ssam-bap restaurants in the countryside. It is like a staple country food dish. While many restaurants serve the dish with a small plate of meat these days, the main focus is on the Ssam.

Ssam (쌈) means “wrap” in Korean. So you use various leaves as a wrap to wrap rice and ssamjang (wrap sauce, a yummy bean paste). This is another great Korean peasant food dish. Very simple yet satisfying. The funny thing is that nowadays these peasant dishes are served at classy, up-scale han-jung-shik (Korean full meal) restaurants, as they are considered healthy, well-being food. We have it when we are being lazy and don’t want to cook. It’s not fancy but its healthy, easy, and satisfying!

Ssam-bap Recipe

Ingredients:
korean green peppers
perrilla leaves
red lettuce
cabbage leaves
napa cabbage leaves
ssamjang
kimchi (optional)

Directions:

1. Make white or brown rice. Prepare ssamjang and kimchi.
2. Clean korean green peppers, perrilla leaves, red lettuce and cabbage leaves. Leave all of the leaves whole and slice the peppers.
3. Steam cabbage until the leaves start becoming clear, but not mushy- takes about 15 minutes when I cook them!
4. Rinse the steamed cabbage immediately in cold water so it stops cooking. If you don’t rinse, it will keep cooking and will be over cooked. It will not taste good!
5. Arrange the korean green peppers, perrilla leaves, red lettuce and cooked cabbage leaves on a plate and serve with rice, ssamjang and kimchi.
6. Wrap the leaves with ssamjang, kimchi and rice like a taco and enjoy! ;)

ssamjang
This is the ssamjang that we use. This is a Haechandle brand, but “Soonchang” makes a good ssamjang too!

ssam-bap cabbage leaves
Steam the cabbage until slightly translucent, but don’t overcook! Rinse with cold water right away to stop the cooking.

ssam-bap leaves
You can mix and match what leaves you use and even combine them. We sometimes like to place a perilla (kkaennip) leaf inside of a lettuce or cabbage leaf when we make wraps.

ssam-bap
Wrap the ingredients up like a taco and enjoy! Be sure to be generous with the ssamjang – that is what really makes the ssambap! And add some kimchi if you like – makes it really yummy.

ssam-bap
Some restaurants will put it together for you like this when they serve their Ssam-bap.

ssam-bap ingredients

Ssam-bap: a simple, healthy, and delicious Korean peasant food!

Goodbye Year of the Dragon & Our Little Dragon’s 100th Day Celebration

February 10, 2013

새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy lunar new year! It’s the start of the year of the snake and the end of the year the dragon. 2012 was a crazy year for us. Sunnie started a new job, we moved, and then welcomed our son, Tevyn, into the world less than a month after relocating!

Tevyn

In Korea, the traditional first big celebration for a new baby is the 100th day celebration, 100 days after the baby is born. Families have a big feast and invite friends and family over to celebrate the birth. We of course had to do the same and cooked up a vegan Korean feast for our guests.

100-Days 7

We had many of our favorite dishes at the celebration, including japchae

100-Days 5

and soy curl bulgogi

100-Days 4

mung bean pancakes

100-Days 3

ddeokbokki

ddeokbokki

and green onion pancakes

green onion pancakes

kim-mari, fried seaweed rolls

kim-mari

and a variety of rice cakes, along with yak-gwa cookies

korean rice cakes

and finally some yoo-boo cho-bap (tofu pockets stuffed with seasoned rice).

Yoo-boo cho-bap

What a year for us 2012 was! Tevyn is also my excuse for not posting as much as we’d like to. My nickname for him (among others) is Captain Timesuck! That’s his official superhero name until he gets old enough to claim his own.

So, his 100th day celebration was all about the food and friends. I’ll post about his first birthday celebration later this year and some fun Korean traditions we’ll be observing then.

Best wishes and blessings for a wonderful year of the snake!

Vegan Goongjung ddeokbokki (Palace ddeokbokki, Soy sauce rice cake) Recipe!

January 18, 2013

Palace Ddeokbokki

My parents came to visit us from Seoul and then my brother came from LA to visit us during the last several weeks, so we’ve been super busy. We had so much fun with them. Bill and I have been having a lot of ddeokbokki lately, and we’ve been making various versions. The other day, we made Goongjung ddeokbokki, which literally means, palace ddeokbokki – so the idea is that it’s a royal dish, rather than an every day person’s dish. Its main flavor is soy sauce, rather than pepper paste, like the more popular ddeokbokki. It’s a really nice option to have for ddeokbokki!

Vegan Goongjung ddeokbokki (Palace ddeokbokki, Soy sauce rice cake) Recipe!

Ingredients:
3-4 pieces of kelp/kombu
3 big, dried shitake mushrooms
1 pack of rice cake
3-4 Tbs of soy sauce
3-4 Tbs of sugar
1 Tbs of diced garlic
1 cup of sliced onions (you can always substitute with onion powder and garlic powder if you don’t have onions and garlic handy)
veggies (such as carrots, cabbage, chives, green onions)
black Pepper
salt
sesame seeds

Directions:
1. Soak the kelp/kombu and shitake mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes and reserve the water. Slice the mushrooms into bite sizes after soaking.
2. Slice the onions, cabbage, carrots, chives, green onions (I just throw in whatever I have!).
3. Heat the pan and add the reserved kelp/kombu and shitake mushroom water, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onions (or garlic/onion powder), black pepper, salt, and sesame seeds. Bring to a boil and let it boil for several minutes.
4. Put the rice cakes and sliced veggies into the pan and boil until the rice cakes are soft. The veggies will become nice and soft too! Let the sauce soak into the rice cake which should turn darker brown.
6. Add some sesame seeds,  salt and black pepper to your liking and continue to briefly stir over heat.
7. It’s ready, enjoy!! :)

Palace Ddeokbokki

Slice up whatever veggies you have, but one thing that I wouldn’t skip is cabbage!

Palace Ddeokbokki

You need your kelp/kombu and shitake mushroom water too – it can improve most vegan Korean dishes, super important!

Palace Ddeokbokki

Add your sauce ingredients and bring to boil.

Palace Ddeokbokki

Add your veggies and rice cake!

Palace Ddeokbokki

The rice cake needs to become soft and brown. The veggies will turn soft as well.

Palace Ddeokbokki

Add some more salt, black pepper and sesame seeds to taste. And it’s ready!

Palace Ddeokbokki

You have palace style ddeokbokki – super easy!  :)

Goodbye, 2012: 10 most viewed posts of the year

December 31, 2012
by

Hope everyone is having a great New Year’s eve! To wrap up the year, I thought I’d highlight our top 10 most viewed posts during 2012. Our first post ever remains our most viewed post! :)

Check out the list below and see if there are any you haven’t read yet.

1. Welcome: Vegan Kimchi Recipe!
2. Vegan Tofu Kangjung (General Tso’s Tofu) Recipe
3. Vegan buffalo hot tofu “wings” recipe
4. Vegan Korean Bulgogi Style Seitan Recipe
5. Red pepper powder (kochukaru / gochugaru)
6. WWATD?!: 2010 Kdrama Awards
7. Vegan Japchae (Korean Sweet Potato Noodles) Recipe
8. The Audacity of Psy – Gangnam Style!
9. Ddeok-ko-chi (Spicy Fried Korean Rice Cake Sticks) Recipe
10. Vegan Shindangdong Style Ddeokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cake) Recipe!

Thanks for another great year and best wishes for the new year!

WWATD?! I Need Romance 2012

December 16, 2012

I Need Romance 2012 poster

Another WWATD?! post wrapping up a Kdrama we finished a little while ago. Fear not, gentle readers, I have a solid excuse for our reduction in posts these days and will share it with you- as soon as I have a chance to post about it! :)

Sunnie and I started watching I Need Romance 2012 because we were looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy to help us relax at the end of long days. We hadn’t seen the original series and thought we’d just give it a try as no other dramas had really grabbed our attention. Very shortly after starting to watch, we almost stopped. The show was initially short on romance and on comedy, focusing instead on the passionate, frustrating, and ultimately destructive relationship between Joo Yeol Mae, played by Jung Yoo Mi and her longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend Yoon Suk Hyun, played by Lee Jin Wook. The two live together in a duplex that is more of a divided, single house that was left to them by their parents, and have dated and broken up with each other since they were in high school. The series starts with their moving from friends who are exes to friends “with benefits”, and Yeol Mae, who despite her denials wants more than this from Suk Hyun, quickly starts transitioning from her cheerful self to a frustrated, manipulative, and clinging woman, who is not very likeable, while Suk Hyun’s boyish charms soon seem more like dense immaturity.

As I mentioned, at this point, we were about ready to jump ship. Who needs the stress?! But we just couldn’t find another drama to pull us in, so we came back to give it another go and were very happy that we did. Yeol Mae soon finds herself drifting more and more towards a new man in her life, Shin Ji Hoon, played by Kim Ji Suk, who we last saw as the uber-annoying boy friend in Personal Taste. Here, he’s very likeable and brings the maturity that the other two in the love triangle seem to lack.

I_Need_Romance2012poster2

Additional characters also lighten things up as we get a very Sex In the Cityish trio of friends, with Yeol Mae’s friends Sun Jae Kyung, played by Kim Ji Woo, who is very much in the unapologetically sexy and devil-may-care Samantha role, and Woo Ji Hee, played by Kang Ye Sol, who plays the prim and proper Charlotte character. Things are further shaken up in Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s home when the younger Kang Na Hyun, played by Kim Ye Won, starts living with them while collaborating with Suk Hyun on a project, and unaware of the duo’s history together, starts to fall for him. Her character, kind of annoying in her youthful bluntness and awkwardness, really starts to grow on you as the series progresses.

While we never do get full on rom-com hilarity with this series, what we do get is a very interesting triangle of the three leads, who are all enjoyable to watch. It’s always interesting to me to see someone like Kim Ji Suk, who was so obnoxious and annoying in Personal Taste, get the chance to show he can be charming and likeable in a series like this. We’re currently watching him in Alice in Cheongdamdong as well. What you get with this show is a view of Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s long relationship, and all of its passions and frustrations, revealed as more and more is revealed as they peel back the layers. You know there is a strong love on both sides there, but what is that Suk Hyun knows that has kept him from ever being fully there for Yeol Mae but unable to let her go?

We really enjoyed this show. Unfortunately, like too many Kdramas, they just couldn’t nail the conclusion. It’s hard to think of many shows that do – I could count them on one hand, and I Need Romance 2012 is no different. Really enjoyable, building towards an interesting conclusion after episode after episode of hinting, innuendo, and back steps, and finally – eh, ok. Not horrible but not fully satisfying. Here, once again, it’s the main course that is the star and the dessert an afterthought. So because we so thoroughly enjoyed this series, we’re left again wishing for more and what could have been if they just could have nailed the ending! I Need Romance 2012 has solid acting throughout, and a very clever and unique photographic approach to the editing that really lends a nice touch and atmosphere to the series, particularly in the many flash backs to previous moments in Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s relationship. We liked the series enough to go and briefly check out the original I Need Romance, but, eh… not so much.

Several nice songs on the drama’s OST too. Somehow, some of the songs remind me in some way of my favorite Kdrama OST ever, Coffee Prince:

 

 

Vegan Shitake Mushroom Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, & Avocado Sandwich Recipe

November 21, 2012

Vegan BLT & Avocado Sandwich

Success! I have finally managed a sandwich that Sunnie is excited about and asks for! I’m not a huge sandwich person, but I do have moments where nothing else will do. I’ve had a tougher time converting Sunnie to the simple joys of sandwiches. Short of putting together a kimchi and bap (rice) sandwich (hmm, might have to think about that ;P), she’d always been rather lukewarm on sandwiches. However, I think I finally got it right with this one – the classic BLT plus avocado. For some reason, BLT’s must appeal to the Asian palette as they have always been my mom’s favorite sandwich as well. This recipe is very easy and really hits the spot. We’ve been eating it all fall!

Vegan Shitake Mushroom Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Sandwich
Serves 2

Ingredients
1/2 Avocado, sliced
1-2 cups of dried, sliced shitake mushrooms, we usually use 1 heaping cup
lettuce, we use romaine
1 roma tomato, or 1/2 regular tomato, sliced
1/2 – 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of vegan sandwich bread
salt & pepper to taste (I use a pinch of salt and about 1/2 tsp of black pepper)
Vegan mayonnaise (we use Vegannaise) to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 35o degrees.
  2. Soak dried shitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes (you can also use fresh, just bake approximately twice as long).
  3. Using your hands, squeeze the water out of the soaked mushrooms.
  4. In a bowl, drizzle olive oil over the mushrooms, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly to coat.
  5. Spread mushrooms out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-35 minutes,checking occasionally, until crispy.
  6. If you are using regular tomatoes, remove seeds by slicing tomato in half horizontally and using your finger to push out seed pockets. Slice tomato and avocado (cut in half vertically, twist to separate, and then slice inside the shell, using a spoon or knife to remove slices).
  7. Toast your bread, spread mayo on, and assemble!

These sandwiches go great with a side of vegan mac and cheese, or a bowl of soup for a fantastic lunch & the recipe is easily doubled.

Soaking dried shitake mushrooms
Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in warm or hot water for at least half an hour to soften them. We like to used dried, sliced shitake mushrooms because of their convenience (we always have a bag in the pantry for making japchae). Depending on how much “bacon” you like on your sandwich, you can go with 1-2 cups of dried mushrooms. Keep in mind that they will shrink down when roasting. I usually go with 1 heaping cup; but you can always munch on any that are leftover if you make more -yum! You could also used dried whole mushrooms and just slice them after soaking or use fresh – you’ll just have to bake longer. Make sure the mushrooms are not still tough and soak longer if necessary.

Vegan shitake mushroom bacon
Make sure to squeeze the water out of the rehydrated mushrooms really well, and then mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Vegan shitake mushroom bacon
Spread the mushrooms out on a baking sheet at bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour, until crispy, being sure to check on them every couple of minutes after about 20 minutes.

Vegan shitake mushroom bacon
Keep in mind that you want the “bacon” to be crispy. They should be cooked long enough to crunch when you bite into them.

Vegan BLT & Avocado ingredients
We like to use roma tomatoes, but regular tomatoes work just fine too if you remove the seeds. We also like romaine lettuce because it is so crisp, but any lettuce will do. Slicing your avocado vertically in the shell is an easy way to get nice slices that you can remove with a knife or spoon.

Vegan BLT & Avocado sandwich
Assemble everything on your toasted, vegan bread and you’re ready to go!

Vegan BLT & Avocado sandwich
Any vegan mayonnaise will do, but our favorite is definite original vegannaise.

Vegan BLT & Avocado sandwich
Mmmm.

Vegan BLT & Avocado sandwich
I think you’ll love the shitake mushroom bacon. So convenient and so yummy! Give it a try!

It’s Psy’s world, and the rest of us are just livin’ in it!: Best Gangnam Style Parodies

November 14, 2012

Psy & Britney on the Ellen Show

As I’m sure you’re all aware, in the weeks since I first blogged about Psy’s Gangnam Style blowing up, it has continued to grow in popularity (as evidenced by the above picture of Psy dancing with Britney and one of our favorite vegans, Ellen Degeneres). It’s really pretty crazy. I’ve watched NFL players doing the Gangnam Style dance after scoring touch downs. It’s been played coming back from commercial breaks during the football games. I’ve heard it on the radio. In Indiana. Korean being sung on regular Indiana radio stations – that’s just bizarre. As I was telling my father-in-law, you just don’t hear foreign-language music being played on mainstream US radio. My mom watches Dancing with the Stars, and they featured Gangnam Style as a dance on there. Even my friend’s young son said he knew the song because they were dancing to it in gym class at school. It’s everywhere, and Psy is everywhere, appearing in Korea and the US every week and appearing with celebrity after celebrity. I’m sure the man is exhausted, but with the song reaching number 2 on the Billboard charts, he’s taking full advantage of his surprising opportunity. And, he’s never too tired to bring it when he performs. Just check out this crazy scene of his performance for 80,000 fans at Seoul’s city hall!

But with Gangnam Style gaining its popularity through the viral music video, it’s of no surprise that it has also spawned a ton of viral parodies that are also a blast. I’ve watched so many, from the University of Oregon duck, to US merchant marine cadets, to dancing knights from the video game, Skyrim,. Even the 7’2″ center of my Indianapolis Pacers, Roy Hibbert, did a small Gangnam Style flash mob with some of his fans in Indy’s Circle Center Mall! However, while many are good, I have some definite favorites. So with no further ado, here are the top 3 Gangnam Style parodies!

#3. 8-bit Gangnam Style

Since I grew up playing 8-bit video games, I have to give props to the excellent reproduction of Gangnam Style!

#2. Hitler Gangnam Style

This is a classic, as this clip of a movie about Hitler has been endlessly used on the Internet to complain about movies, sporting event outcomes, and everything else. I thought it was brilliant and hilarious how they mixed this to have him singing to Gangnam Style!

and the #1 Gangnam Style parody is, what else? Vegan Gangnam Style!!!!!

I just love the lyrics to this – totally hilarious!

I hope you enjoyed these Gangnam Style parodies. What are your favorites?

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